Katrina Corruption Watch

It’s been almost six months since the devastation of Hurricane Katrina. The federal government has handed out billions in contracts ranging from over $500 million for the giant construction company Bechtel to provide short-term housing to people displaced by the hurricane to a $185 contract with RT’s Plumbing in New Iberia, LA to service portable toilets.

In the rush to respond to the crisis, FEMA and other federal agencies sidestepped normal protocol and gave out many no-bid contracts. Some of those deals have come under scrutiny due to the fact that insiders seemed to be profiting from the disaster - two of former FEMA director-turned-lobbyist Joseph Allbaugh’s corporate clients, Shaw Group and Halliburton, have reaped hundreds of millions in contracts. And Bechtel’s CEO, Riley P. Bechtel, was named by President Bush to his Export Council.

So, we decided to take a look at government figures involved in the Katrina recovery effort, primarily examining the political leaders in Louisiana and Mississippi and prominent members of the Louisiana Recovery Authority and the Mississippi Development Authority, to see if any of their companies or organizations have been awarded contracts related to the recovery. (*Note that these records do not take into account contracts awarded by the Department of Defense.) Here are the results:

Joe Allbaugh (former FEMA director)
- $348 million (Shaw Group)
- $178 million (Halliburton’s Kellogg Brown & Root)

Rosemary Barbour (married to Mississippi governor Haley Barbour’s nephew)
- $6.7 million (Alcatec LLC - install and maintain portable showers, deliver tents)

Jerry St. Pe (member of Governor’s Commission on Recovering, Rebuilding and Renewal in MS)
- $1.5 million (Northrop Grumman - various services)

Dan Packer (chair of Bring New Orleans Back commission
- $71,000 (Entergy - electric services to EPA and GSA)

Anthony Topazi (leader of Mississippi Development Authority’s Momentum Mississippi board)
- $49,403 (Mississippi Power - electrical utility services)

Jim Barksdale (head of Governor’s Commission on Recovering, Rebuilding and Renewal in MS)
- $32,121 (SRA International - hold pre-proposal conference)

Gray Swoope (deputy director and COO of the Mississippi Development Authority)
- $10,000 (Pearl River Community College - rent space in Poplarville, MS)

James Reiss (leader of Bring New Orleans Back commission)
- $2,600 (Smith & Associates Consulting - pallets in Gulfport, MS)

Joseph C. Canizaro (leader of Bring New Orleans Back commission)
- $0 (Galleria Operating - lease of office buildings in Metairie, LA)


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